Flying with a baby can be overwhelming for both parents and the baby. Specially when it is for the first time. When I took my daughter first onboard she was just 8 months old. It was an international flight and the total Journey was around 20 hours, with one halt/ stop. So the journey was split for 8 hours first, then a two-hour stop and again followed by 8 hours. I had no prior experience with the baby and had no other support person or my husband with me, so I was all on my own. I did some mistakes, figured out many things that helped me to learnt a lot while this travel. Hence, I thought to share my 10 best travel tips and advises for mothers and parents to make their flying with the baby comfortable and stress free.
1.Booking seats and bassinet- Always try to book your seats as early as you can and the most important part to book or request for the bassinet at the earliest. Some airlines require you to call and reserve for the baby bassinet and for some its first come first serve basis. So do check with your airlines. Try booking seats with bassinet facility with them. If you are lucky enough to get the bassinet provided by the airlines during your travel, then the journey will be much relaxing and comfortable for you and the baby.
Try reaching as early as you can if it’s a first come and first serve basis. Once you are in the plane you can request the staff to get it. They usually will fix the bassinet next to your seat after 10-15 minutes of the takeoff.
If you have booked a seat for your baby like I did, be sure to carry FAA approved car seat with you. Sometimes you don’t get a chance to get the bassinet, so it’s good to have a seat for your child too. Some people carry their child in lap, but it is very uncomfortable for parents and also for the baby to hold the baby for a 20 hour-long flight. For car seat carry I bought an attachment from amazon that made it easier to drag. Trust me it will make your life very easy. With the baby in the hand and your carry on bag with you it will not be possible to carry car seat without this thing. You needed your hands free for other stuff.
Try to book the front seat. They have more leg room and space that has a lot of pros to it. After the flight takes off you can place your carry bag or diaper bag besides your legs, that would avoid the hassle of getting up again and again to take out your bag from the overhead compartment. Also you can stretch your legs, hold your baby and avoid bumping into any seat in front. If you are not able to do that, then try to book aisle seat for you so that you can get up easily to go to the lavatory with baby for diaper changing, or just for the walk in the plane with the baby to calm the baby down or for any other needs without disturbing others.
- Traveling: Try to keep your baby awake till your flight takes off. Try to book flights that fly during nights or are closer to your baby’s sleep time. This way your baby would be asleep for most part of the journey which would be relaxing for both parents and the child. Wear comfortable loose clothes. Don’t forget your nursing cover if you plan to breastfeed during flight.
3.Packing less- One important thing to keep in mind while packing should be to only pack stuff that cannot be left. You already will be carrying your baby in your hands,so avoid overpacking. Take baby ergo carriers, Bjorn, sling or any baby carrier with you that your baby is comfortable with.Your hands will be free for luggage and it will be easier while changing flights. If you are carrying strollers you can check them on the gate while boarding.One good rule of thumb would be to pack your and baby’s stuff in one carry bag and that too in a bag pack. So that when your baby is cranky on the airport and you need to hold your baby, then you can put your backpack on your shoulders without worrying where to keep your luggage or misplacing it and your hands are free to grab your baby. Else you would be stuck with deciding what to grab luggage or your baby and you can’t miss either.
- Important Carry on baby packing stuff:Pack extra diapers, wipes, pacifiers; bottles, use and throw bibs and diaper changing sheets. One advantage of use and throw stuff is that these can be trashed after use and good for maintaining hygiene and avoid baby to come in contact with any germs. Carry extra plastic bags, sanitizer,sanitizing wipes,tissues,first aid kit, baby lotion, hair brush, one to two set of extra clothes for baby incase you need to change them. If the baby is breastfed then pack your nursing cover, if baby has started solids then pack some extra as airlines won’t provide any. Take out formula and baby food at security clearance to save time and to avoid any issues. Pack liquids in ziplock. Pack some travel friendly toys for entertainment and to keep the baby busy. After all that said I would still remind you to pack less and only essentials when traveling with the baby.
- Important Carry on for Mothers Again follow the rule to pack minimal without leaving important stuff. Try carrying a backpack rather than other bags that you need to hold. Backpacks can be easy as they free your hands and the weight is on your shoulders. That makes it easy when you have to hold your child/stroller/car seat. Carry your basic toiletries, makeup, one set of extra clothes, travel documents,sanitary pads, liners,plastic water bottle, pen etc. Please do not overpack. Remember as said earlier good thumb of rule would be to try to fit your and baby’s stuff in one bag.
- Weather and flight friendly clothes for both you and baby: During a long journey you would be changing diapers at least a minimum of twice. Make sure your child is dressed up in simple clothes that would take less time to undress or remove while changing diapers. I would suggest you to not use full covering onesies or jumpsuits as it won’t be easy in plane lavatories to completely undress your child or take the legs out. Make the baby wear simple pants or pyjamas. Just remove the bottoms, change the diaper and you would be good to go. Babies are already apprehensive in the new environment. So try and keep things simple and easy. Also keep in mind the weather while dressing for you both. If you are breastfeeding then wear clothes accordingly so that it’s easier to nurse the child. Avoid wearing dresses, jumpsuits etc.that would hinder nursing. Wear easy and comfortable clothes and shoes and do not forget your nursing cover.
- Keep hydrated and relax: Try to keep yourself and the baby hydrated all the time. Long journeys are exhausting. If you are breastfeeding carry an extra bottle of water with you. Relax and do not stress out if anything is not under your control, or if your child is not cooperating. Do not panic and handle the situation easily and remember the journey will end and won’t be forever.
- Avoid any negative comments or vibes: Do not get stressed out or embarrassed if your fellow travelers are giving you strange looks or negative comments with your baby. Babies will be babies They don’t have a sense of what is wrong or right. If your child is cranky, do not get nervous it is totally fine and normal. Prior to seating or takeoff, you could also request people sitting next to you to cooperate and not mind if your child gets cranky while the journey.
- Talk to your pediatrician about your traveling plans. If there is any concerns let your doctor know. Ask for suggestions, take prescription medicines. Some pediatricians would assign a travel clinic for your child. Do not forget to take all important medications.
- Ask for help: last and most important advice I would like to give you would be never hesitate to ask for help or any assistance. Flight and Airport staff are always there for their travelers within permissible means. For some flights they give priority boarding to women with kids. If you have any trouble with your luggage, seating arrangements or you have any doubts or fear be sure to clarify it with the flight attendants or to the staff at the airport. Many flights also provide assistance with carrying luggage for the women who are traveling alone with small babies. Be sure to request or ask if they have such facility.
These all tips will make your trip easy and comfortable for you and your child. If anything goes wrong, do not panic. Stay composed, the journey will end eventually and till then do what’s right.